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Survey Follow-Up

Earlier this year, we approached you: would you complete our comprehensive survey?  We needed to get a pulse of our donors, volunteers, and churches: what ministries are you most connected with, what weaknesses are we blind to, where can we improve, how we can serve you better?

What did we learn?  Through 1370 responses and 100 pages of comments, we discovered that you are passionate about Lifeline's ministries and the people we serve together!

You shared a lot of great information with us, while also voicing your concerns. It's shown us some weak points in our communications, areas to work on, and more.

Below we've complied the most frequently mentioned responses/concerns.  We simply wanted to share how we are delving in to make changes, provide details, and simply be open and transparent with your concerns:


Mission Trips
 

Create a greater variety of mission trips that includes a wider range of options to better utilize the skills/talents of participants and to be more attractive to repeat participants 

We're beginning to provide some additional options to our trips, like the recent men's trip to Haiti which was truly a unique experience!  Future, small teams led by Mark Gulley, our new Mission Team Manger, will fill the need for those who like shorter, work focused trips, while more relationship based trips - focusing on growing relationships with a church or ministry area - have already begun.  Even our "regular" trips are incorporating ministries and activities that are more relationship based.
 
Provide more explanation and clarification on how mission trip funds are used

Transparency is important, and, as this question comes up frequently, for many years now we've provided details our team member handbook.  Essentially, your trip cost is divided into 2 parts:
 
1) A small part of your trip funding provides a ministry contribution towards the ministries you serve in on the mission field. 
 
2) The majority of your trip funding goes to things team members feel strongly about: safe and comfortable dorm/dining room facilities and/or hotels (where we do not have a campus), hot running water, electricity, air conditioning, security personnel, food, safe drinking water, drivers and vehicles for in-field transportation, gas for vehicles, bus/vehicle maintenance to provide safe transportation, airfare, staff coordinators to lead your team, U.S. office staff to answer your questions and ensure important details are covered, and more.  Your trip funds also provide employment to the nationals who assist with your team: drivers, translators, cooks, maintenance workers, security, etc. 
 
Keith, Christi, and/or Ben are always available to discuss your trip costs.
 
Monitor the price of mission trips to ensure they don't become cost prohibitive to interested participants

We agree!  Our heart is for people to go on mission trips and experience the adventure of serving God in a different cultureCurrently, our mission trip costs have remained the same the past 3 years, and we frequently review our trip costs since this is a major point of concern for team members.


Child Sponsorship
 

More and better communication between sponsors and children

Encouraging and strengthening the sponsor-child relationship is important to us, and to foster that, we need to enable better communication.  As we have dug into this, we've learned that part of our hindrance to provide more and better communication is our systems and processes.  As the sponsorship ministry has grown, our systems and processes have not been modified to keep up with the growth. Plus, our current database has created barriers to improving processes so we are beginning the long transition to a new database, which will enable us to improve our systems.  This will take time to transition and we will go through growing pains, but we are working on it.  We appreciate your patience!
 
Concerns regarding the gift-giving policies and practices for sponsored children

We've learned that gifts can be a highly energized topic for our sponsors, and opinions go across the spectrum.  We've determined that we can't base our policies and practices on what we want or what our sponsors want...our policies and practices need to be based upon the children, what's best for their culture, their educational experience, etc.  Thus, we are working with our field staff to determine the best practices on these decisions.
 
Improve communications to sponsors about gift giving to children to better explain the needs of the children and what gifts are needed

Communication is important!  We've began monthly emails just for sponsors to keep them updated on stories, news, and gift information.  As we go, we're learning how to better and clearly communicate the gifts ministry, what type of information is important to you, etc. We continue to listen to you and learn how to best keep you informed!


Mission/Ministry Focus
 

Multiplicity of comments related the overall mission/ministry of Lifeline and its purpose/focus were mentioned

As Lifeline has grown, our core has stayed the same - point people to Jesus - but with our variety of ministries, the messaging has been confusing...even to us!  We're working to clean up our messaging and branding to be clearer on who we are and what we do, along with being consistent across all ministries, documents, etc.  This is still a work in progress, as we develop our mission statement, core values, new logo, etc.
 
Desired shift from a "relief-focused" ministry to a more "development-focused, holistic" ministry

Jesus said that there will always be the poor among us that will need assistance, so we will always offer "a cup of water in Jesus' name" when needed.  Yet we also want holistic ministries and to provide opportunities for individuals and families to discover and develop their skills and interests to become productive members of their communities. Over the years, vocational initiatives have been attempted, the chicken coop ministry began, and our schools have been integral in giving the children the opportunity to better their future.  We are continually exploring new ministry areas, such as microfinance; this is a work in progress, as we learn what will work best in our ministry communities.



Finances/Funding
 

Improve financial transparency, honesty and reporting regarding funds given, and better follow through on using gifts according to donor's intent

The first thing new leadership has to do is to get a realistic picture and figure out where we are at; we have done that with a new auditing firm and are making steps to improve our financial situation, starting with a comprehensive 2017 budget.  Ben always has an open door and you are welcome to call or email him at anytime.  Financial transparency has also been a priority of Lifeline's Board of Directors and has been a work in progress the past several years, as Lifeline joined the ECFA, our financial statements and 990 are now online, and other similar steps have been taken. 


Communications
 

Segment communications to better serve the various interests and needs of your readers

We understand that you want to receive emails and print materials about ministries you are passionate about!  Earlier this year we began a monthly email just for sponsors, to help improve the communications that they receive.  As we transition into a new database, we hope to better track your interests so that you'll receive updates specific to your passions.
 
Simplify and group our ministry project needs/asks to make them more accessible and understandable to donors 

Being clear and transparent on our needs is important.  As we've began to intensely analyze our ministry funding, we're seeing the gaps and attempting to clearly explain projects and ministries that need your assistance. We still have a long way to go, as we communicate the needs and find donors to fill these gaps.


Again, we greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions with us!  We are listening to your concerns and hope we are developing your confidence in the ministry. Please feel free to call Ben, Lifeline's President & CEO, (614-794-0108) or email ( connect@lifeline.org) if you have additional questions or need any clarifications.  Our door is open to you!